Aerial shots are staples of many sports games today, and the appearance of a blimp over a football field or other location says that you’re watching something important. Those blimps provide great coverage of the line of scrimmage in a football game or centerfield on a baseball diamond with an angle you can’t get from the stadium cameras. However, today blimps are not the only aerial vehicles that are able to get these kinds of shots, as small and lightweight drones are being sold that easily mount a camera on their back.
While these drones can catch the same type of action as overhead blimps, they do face the drawback of being strictly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. This government agency may very well knock down those drones for good and make it just too complicated to use them for any game.
The FAA refers to these types of drones as unmanned aerial spacecraft or UAS, and they have strict rules on their use. Noncommercial hobbyists can fly them as long as they stay under 400 feet, are away from airports, and are always in the sight of the operator. As for commercial uses, drones then have even more restrictions because they fall under all FAA rules and regulations that apply to aircraft.
This can make using those drones for sporting events impossible because many reporters and camera operators may have no idea about these regulations in the first place. Failing to comply with these regulations can also mean hefty fines, so many camera operators may simply avoid that risk.
While the FAA regulations make it nearly impossible to use drones at sporting events, they are making progress in changing the situation. Currently, they have an agenda in front of them that reviews the commercial use of UAS for sporting goods and other events, and they are aiming to create regulations for these uses alone. This can allow camera operators to enter the field once governed by blimps alone, and may change the way people view sporting events in the near future!